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October 7, 2010

posted Oct 9, 2010, 4:53 PM by Web Administrator
Mayaterials announces the start of its USDA funded Phase II SBIR for “Conversion of Agricultural Waste into High Quality Insulation for Energy Conservation”

During Phase I, Mayaterials’ researchers made low-density, 0.35 – 0.55 g/cm3, materials derived from rice hull ash (RHA) to be used as cores in vacuum insulation panels (VIPs). RHA is an abundant, 100 M ton/yr worldwide, agricultural waste material produced as a byproduct from burning rice hulls, which is also a byproduct of rice production.

VIPs consist of a rigid core encapsulated in a gas-tight envelope from which air is evacuated. The envelope prevents air from reentering and the core keeps the walls from collapsing. The encapsulated vacuum greatly reduces the conduction and convection of heat; therefore, it is desirable for the core to be highly micro(nano)porous while maintaining high structural integrity.

During Phase I, Mayaterials produced robust cores and complete VIPs, as shown in the photo below, with a high thermal resistance of R-20/in. Current home insulation materials, such as polystyrene and polyurethane, have R-values of 3-7/in.

These successes have led to a Phase II ($400k) award from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture starting Sept. 30th to scale the facile processing techniques to produce large cores and optimize envelope technology. The ease of manufacture and low-cost starting materials combined with the potential energy savings make these VIPs an economically competitive green technology.